Photos by Adam Finkle
Last year, the Australian Lamb Board caused a big flap with an advertisement featuring Jesus, Ganesha, Moses, Zeus and other deities sitting together and enjoying a lamb feast. Understandably, the ad caused a lot of controversy, but the message was clear, no matter how you took the medium. Lamb is one of the most-consumed meats in the world, and one of the most symbolic. We eat it in spring to herald the fresh season, and we crave lamb flavor year round. See more about lamb in Utah here.
Lamb in Translation
Lavanya Mahate, owner of Saffron Valley, enlightens us about lamb in Indian food.
“India is a diverse country with over 1.3 billion people. Nearly 80 percent of the population is Hindu, and Muslims are the largest minority at around 15 percent,” says Lavanya Mahate, owner of Saffron Valley. “Hindus refrain from eating beef, and Muslims do not eat pork. It’s no wonder chicken is the most popular choice of meat followed by goat and lamb, frequently called mutton.
Americans are still wary of eating goat, so lamb usually replaces it on menus in Indian restaurants. However, goat is being more accepted gradually.
Goat vs. Lamb
Although goats and lambs are both slaughtered when young, classified as red meat and are closely related, they are two different species. In India, goat meat ranges in color from light pink to bright red. It is better suited to long, slow cooking over low temperatures to preserve the moisture and break down the collagen.
A sheep in its first year is a lamb. The meat varies in color from a tender pink to a pale red. In general, the darker the color, the older the animal. There is more fat on lamb, fewer bones, and a less gamey flavor than goat.
Warm spices such as cardamom, cloves and cinnamon are used with lamb. Often fragrant ones are used as well, such as fennel seeds and saffron along with the famous Kashmiri red chilies, ginger and garlic that add great depth and complexity to lamb dishes. Lamb is often braised and slow-cooked in yogurt or milk to cut the gamey smell, replacing it with a creamy and aromatic taste.”
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